31 October, 2011

Review - Low Town/The Straight Razor Cure by Daniel Polansky

In the forgotten back alleys and flophouses that lie in the shadows of Rigus, the finest city of the Thirteen Lands, you will find Low Town. It is an ugly place, and its cham­pion is an ugly man. Disgraced intelligence agent. Forgotten war hero. Independent drug dealer. After a fall from grace five years ago, a man known as the Warden leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs. Every day is a constant hustle to find new customers and protect his turf from low-life competition like Tancred the Harelip and Ling Chi, the enigmatic crime lord of the heathens.

The Warden’s life of drugged iniquity is shaken by his dis­covery of a murdered child down a dead-end street . . . set­ting him on a collision course with the life he left behind. As a former agent with Black House—the secret police—he knows better than anyone that murder in Low Town is an everyday thing, the kind of crime that doesn’t get investi­gated. To protect his home, he will take part in a dangerous game of deception between underworld bosses and the psy­chotic head of Black House, but the truth is far darker than he imagines. In Low Town, no one can be trusted.
Low Town [US] [UK] [Kindle] is Daniel Polasnky's debut novel - a fantasy that's not completely a fantasy. Told in the first person, Low Town is, and I don't think I'm the first to report, a crime noir story in a fantastical setting. It literally is a crime thriller set in a medieval secondary world...and it's works really well.

Warden is your typical bad-A with a heart of gold. His hard exterior comes from the way the system's treated him, his participation not only in the military, but in the police force, neither of which ending on the best of terms.

Throughout most of the book, Warden is extremely mysterious and Low Town was very hard to put down because of this aspect - Warden's always got something new up his sleeve, some talent or contact. This is especially surprising because of his work as a drug dealer.

And that's one of the things that makes Warden so surprising. This drug dealer has already tried everything and this is the field of work he's landed on and stuck with.

As we learn more about Warden's talents and networking skills, certain parts of his past are revealed as well and these were some of the best parts of the book. Not only do they not slow down the fast pace of this book, but they move the plot forward deftly.

Coming from the streets, Warden had it rough, but was able to prove his good nature by helping those less fortunate than himself, those who hadn't found a place for themselves as he had.

This next paragraph is not quite a spoiler, but may spoil the book if you read it, so read at your own risk:

I did figure out the ending pretty early on in the book, and the reason for the warning is because I think it's only because I read a review that mentioned this same thing. But, despite the fact that I knew the ending "whodunit," I still highly enjoyed the ride, exploring the world of Low Town and the character of Warden.

Why Read Low Town?

Are you in the mood for a fast-paced book that's almost impossible to put down? Low Town is a great break from your average fantasy. It certainly has plenty of fantasy elements, but this is its own beast altogether, something I've never seen in a fantasy novel. Highly Recommended.

4 out of 5 Stars (Loved it)

Oh, and Happy Halloween! :)

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher

29 October, 2011

Two Imaginary Discussions With Tor...

...make for great blogging.

I don't know what was in the water this week, but if you haven't already checked out these two posts, one a review, one a commentary on a book cover, you really should do yourself a favor:

Staffer's Musings Reviews Shadow Prowler: You may remember Alec's review of this gem. He had similar feelings as I recall.

Stomping on Yeti Talks Scalzi's New Cover: The book Redshirts gets a lame cover while they taunt us with actually decent ones.

27 October, 2011

Review - Dust of Dreams (Malazan Book 9) by Steven Erikson

In war everyone loses. This brutal truth can be seen in the eyes of every soldier in every world…
In Letherii, the exiled Malazan army commanded by Adjunct Tavore begins its march into the eastern Wastelands, to fight for an unknown cause against an enemy it has never seen.

And in these same Wastelands, others gather to confront their destinies. The warlike Barghast, thwarted in their vengeance against the Tiste Edur, seek new enemies beyond the border and Onos Toolan, once immortal T’lan Imass now mortal commander of the White Face clan, faces insurrection. To the south, the Perish Grey Helms parlay passage through the treacherous kingdom of Bolkando. Their intention is to rendezvous with the Bonehunters but their vow of allegiance to the Malazans will be sorely tested. And ancient enclaves of an Elder Race are in search of salvation—not among their own kind, but among humans—as an old enemy draws ever closer to the last surviving bastion of the K’Chain Che’Malle.

So this last great army of the Malazan Empire is resolved to make one final defiant, heroic stand in the name of redemption. But can deeds be heroic when there is no one to witness them? And can that which is not witnessed forever change the world? Destines are rarely simple, truths never clear but one certainty is that time is on no one’s side. For the Deck of Dragons has been read, unleashing a dread power that none can comprehend…

In a faraway land and beneath indifferent skies, the final chapter of ‘The Malazan Book of the Fallen’ has begun…

There's a warning at the beginning of Dust of Dreams [US] [UK] [Kindle] from the author himself explaining that until this point in the series, there has never been a cliffhanger, but in order to finish this insanely huge series, the penultimate volume in the Malazan Book of the Fallen is the first and only to do so.

Throughout the book, I was prepping myself for lots of buildup with no payoff in the end. Every other ending to every other Malazan book has blown my mind more than anything I've ever read. Erikson's endings are the best in the business and easily make it worth the thousand plus pages it takes to get there.

So, knowing that there would be a cliffhanger, I assumed there wouldn't be any mind-blowingness going on at the end. Well, I'm happy to say that I was wrong. It is epic, tragic, brutal, and lovely all rolled into one. Nothing but the usual.

Now, that's not to say that a cliffhanger doesn't exist, I'm just saying you don't have to go through the entire book not expecting a great ending... like I did.

While I had a bit of a hard time with Toll the Hounds (although I still loved it), Dust of Dreams goes back, mostly, to Erikson's normal style, which really just means Toll sans narration. The philosophizing is a bit heavy-handed, especially coming from EVERY character, but it didn't ruin anything and most of the time, I enjoyed pondering the meaning of existence, etc.

The Bonehunters have been hanging out in Letheras since they rousted the Tiste Edur and Tehol Beddict has been put in charge as king (Awesome!). Brys Beddict, Tehol's brother, is back, and in charge of the Letherii military (More Awesome!). I have to admit, I have a huge man-crush on Brys (great name btw).

Adjunct Tavore has decided the Bonehunters need to head east toward the Wastelands and even further and no one knows why... her usual MO. Their allies, the Perish Grey Helms and the Kundryl Burned Tears, are busy getting things ready in the east of the Letherii kingdom, but things aren't going too well with the Bolkando stirring things up.

We also tag along with the Barghast, led by their Warleader Onos T'oolan (or Tool), who's now no longer T'lan Imass - just Imass now, who are really ancient Barghast ancestors. The Barghast despise his leadership as they prefer their more barbaric traditions to his more civilized way of thinking.

This is a minor spoiler, but: It's interesting to note that Dust of Dreams actually begins before the ending of Toll the Hounds if you were wondering. :)

Why Read The Malazan Book of the Fallen?

The Malazan Book of the Fallen is the most confusing thing you'll never forget. Under the definition of "epic" in the dictionary, you'll find The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. I promise you, IT IS WORTH IT.

Erikson puts you right where the average soldier is, just do as your told and you'll end up all right, you don't need to know all the details just yet.

Add to this the feelings of jubilation when you figure something out, this series will blow your mind. Guaranteed.

4 out of 5 Stars (Compared to the rest of the series)
5 out of 5 Stars (Compared to anything else)

If you need any help remembering some of the characters/races/magics, check out the Malazan Wiki. It's amazing with a WARNING: Don't read too far into anything and especially, DON'T LOOK AT THE DECK OF DRAGONS. Go back to the previous books if you need to.

I started this series before I started blogging, but here are the reviews I've done so far:

The Bonehunters reviewed (MbotF 6) (This is a very early review of mine, don't judge too harshly)
Reaper's Gale reviewed (MbotF 7)
Toll the Hounds reviewed (MbotF 8)

Return of the Crimson Guard by ICE (Malazan Empire 2)

26 October, 2011

Goodreads Top 100 Fantasy Books List

I don't know what it is, but I'm a huge fan of lists. Maybe I just like really boring things...I mean I am in law school.

That means, of course, that any type of top 100 book list is right up my alley. (NPR ring a bell)

After weeks of nominations and voting to narrow down the list, the Goodreads group, Fantasy Aficionados, has posted their final list for “An Aficionado’s Guide to the top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time”.

Obviously, a lot of the regulars made the cut - like A Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings:

Some newbies, interestingly, made the cut - I've not read any of the Iron Druid Chronicle so I guess I can't really say:

Some oldies as well - I was really happy to see Moorcock, but I don't get why both Homer's Iliad and Odyssey made the list as two separate entries while other series were combined:

Overall, it seems to be a pretty good list covering both old and new and I'm glad it's not completely filled with the textbook classics that everyone's read and therefore gets votes for that reason alone.

How does the list measure up to your expectations?

25 October, 2011

Giveaway Winner: Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson (Signed ARC and Audiobook)

Before we get to the good stuff, I have to do the usual build up. Without this, your anticipation levels wouldn't be nearly high enough to be excited about the winners winning...and we all know you can't just jump to the end. That's out of the question.

Through this giveaway for Alloy of Law, A Mistborn Novel, I found out that Brandon Sanderson has some pretty passionate fans. We always ask for snark and while we received our fair share of snark....
Will the sequel to "The Alloy of Law" be
called "An Emulsion of Torts"? - Frank Nagy

"Let's see, who can we get to whip up a novel quick so we can slap an urban steampunk cover on it and sell a bajillion? I know, Brandon Sanderson. He's not busy right now!" - Todd Tyrna

At least Harriet didn't ask G.R.R.M. to write AMOL. - Zach West

Or was it the novelization of Angry Birds? I can't keep your stuff straight. - Keith Potempa

...I was a bit snarky myself with the subject line (I thought you were working on A Memory of Light), there were plenty who came to Sanderson's rescue and I was very impressed...
You're like Clive Cussler, but without 5 other authors writing with you... - Randy Siedelmann

Branderson has recently acquired the Fantasy Author Beard, though it is a bit wimpy, and I'm starting to wonder if Epicness of Author Beard's Size is converse to output. I mean GRRM and Pat Rothfuss have huge beards and their books are few and far between. Branderson went from being beardless with quite a few books coming out to a new, albeit small, goatee effect, still with quite the output but I think he's slowing down a bit. - Caitrin Clewell

...by the fans who both want A Memory of Light...
Geeze! Why do you have to come out with awesome books like "The Alloy
of Law" when you should be working on aMoL! - Scott hillstrom

Well, this is definitely not A memory of light. Apparently Mat Rand and Perrin can wait a while for the end of the world to come.
At least The alloy of law is already after the end of a world... - Garret Rushforth

I know you needed to develop firearms tactics for Matt in AMoL, but don't you think this is taking it a bit too far? - Alden Stradling

You better start burning that bloody Bendalloy, the flaming 36 and a half thousand new characters in A Memory of Light aren't going to bloody create themselves! Blood and bloody ashes.. Keep going on like this and we'll box your ears! - Erik Thomas

Why on earth would you stop working on the best fantasy in the world ? Oh yeah, to continue the second-best. Go Brandon ! - Marc St. Pierre

"I expect the climax action of AMoL to be in the glossary because that's where all the good stuff ends up." ;) - Emilie Nangle

...and by those who would prefer he work on his own projects...
But frankly I'd rather you keep working on Mistborn. Unless that gets in the way of working on the next Stormlight book! - Nick Chaney

Another 10 years is nothing for a WoT fan! Go on, finish the Stormlight Archive first, we'll still be waiting! - Chris Mowery

I've decided what I need is an allomantic power that collects luck. I would use it all here if I could get this book. I think it would be worth having bad luck on other things, like finding pennies. Just saying. This is worth saving up for years and not finding any lucky pennies. - Emily Younker

Can you imagine how anxious we are all going to be for the final book of the Stormlight Archive? Brandon better be able to finish it. Thank God Mormons have long life expectancies. - Nick Castelli

...and then there's just some random comments, including making fun of us at Only the Best (which I always encourage) I couldn't help but include...
You think you could change your email address a few more times? onlythebestsffseaksstampbloggeratf@gmail.com has a nice ring to it. - Logan Stewart

Snarky comments? So now I'm supposed to "work" to get free shit?
What kinda well-fare system is this? - John Corvino

Arrrgh! (That's pirate for snarky witticism.) - Craig Mulanax

I promise to never again make-out with my cat if I win this book from you. Come on! I read the trilogy and I've been brushing my teeth and flossing every damn night. - Joseph Gervasi

I don't know much about being snarky but I did include the quotations in the subject line out of spite. - Greg McFarland

Exceedingly simple rules shouldn't contain a request for snarky remarks. - Robin Freeman

You should probably give me this book. For a number of reasons, really, but before you dismiss me, you have to hear my story. I have a small child. Mistborn is her favorite. She has a cloak she made all by herself and runs around the house yelling 'Mommy, I'm Vin! Look at me fly!" and then proceeds to throw nickels at me. She heard about this new book and looked up at me with those big beautiful baby blues and I just knew I had to find a way to get her a copy. ...Okay. I don't have a child. That's really just me I'm describing. I really need to stop this lie before I turn my non existent child into Tiny Tim, complete with one working leg, poverty so complete you'd have to have a little compassion. Not to mention tell you terrible things about her having cancer. (Again, describing a younger me. Although with less melodrama. I should have stayed a child, I was worthy of so much more empathy back then.) I don't want to be a monster to even a fictional character, I'm just really, really poor and cannot explain to you how much it would mean to me to have not just Brandon Sanderson lastest masterpiece, but his actual signature in my hands. A girl can dream! I'm sorry. This was going to be the snarkiest thing you ever read, but I suddenly grew a conscience halfway through and just couldn't go through with it. Crap. - Dani Sweet

I may be the only one who thinks it's hilarious that the audio book is the second prize, as that's the only version I can truly appreciate, being a blind guy. Hey, you know what that means, don't you? I have no memories of light. Heheheh. Apparently I could see for a while as a child, but trying to remember that time is like steel pushing a credit card. It just ain't happenin. You might say my memory of sight... Memory of light?... is misty, but then I've already used that joke. Well, since time is a wheel, I'm bound to just use it again. Yeah, my advice is to stop reading this message now, lest your metalminds are overloaded with an infinite loop. Now there's an interesting concept. OK, OK, I'm done, but thanks for the opportunity. - Brandon Cole

Oh, well, I guess you'd like to see who the winners are. For the signed ARC, our winner is:

Travis Bingaman from Shippensburg, PA

And the winner of the Audiobook of Alloy of Light would be:

Owen Salava from T or C, NM (had to look this up, it's Truth or Consequences)

Anyone who's snark has been mentioned in this post has just earned themselves two extra entries into the next giveaway of their choosing. Sorry to all those I didn't include, there was plenty of other great snark, this post was just getting a bit ridiculous.

Thanks for making giveaways fun for me and thanks to all who entered.

23 October, 2011

What's the Deal With... Margaret Atwood? Speculative or Science Fiction?

An internet rant is a beautiful thing. Because, why even be online, with all the anonymity that brings, and even attempt to contain all that angst. It's why we have comments on everything from blogs to Youtube to news stories. People need to complain! We have things on our chest and we've got to get them off...and our significant others are just plain tired of hearing the same thing over and over again.

In light of this, I decided to institute a new feature on the blog where I can bring up whatever's on my mind, be it terrible book covers, titles, ideas, bloggers (okay, probably just Pat), you name it and have some fun with it.


Margaret Atwood's newest book, called In Other Worlds, is about, well I'll just let you read the blurb:
In Other Worlds: Science Fiction and the Human Imagination is Margaret Atwood’s account of her rela­tionship with the literary form we have come to know as science fiction. This relationship has been lifelong, stretch­ing from her days as a child reader in the 1940s through her time as a graduate student at Harvard, where she explored the Victorian ancestors of the form, and continuing with her work as a writer and reviewer. This book brings together her three heretofore unpublished Ellmann Lectures of 2010—“Flying Rabbits,” which begins with Atwood’s early rabbit superhero creations and goes on to speculate about masks, capes, weakling alter egos, and Things with Wings; “Burning Bushes,” which follows her into Victorian other-lands and beyond; and “Dire Cartographies,” which investi­gates utopias and dystopias. In Other Worlds also includes some of Atwood’s key reviews and musings about the form, including her elucidation of the differences (as she sees them) between “science fiction” proper and “speculative fiction,” as well as “sword and sorcery/fantasy” and “slip­stream fiction.” For all readers who have loved The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood—not to mention Atwood’s 100,000-plus Twitter fol­lowers— In Other Worlds is a must.

First, she's offended by having her work called "science fiction" (it's "speculative" fiction") and now it was just a misunderstanding since she's such a big fan that was she was really offended at was the incorrect use of terms. I call BS. (This article discusses what I'm talking about to some extent.)

Please just be honest with us - you don't want to fall into "that" category which has such a stigma. We all know the truth.

I've heard nothing but good things about her work, but things like this just make hard. Is this not a good enough reason to refuse to read her books?

20 October, 2011

Duck and Cover - Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

This is a great cover I found through Twitter, and thus through the author, Chuck Wendig's, site.

Will have to keep my eye on Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig from Angry Robot books.

Oh, and sorry for no review this week. It's been insane. Will catch up this weekend though.

18 October, 2011

Giveaway: Ashes of a Black Frost by Chris Evans

Simon & Schuster is nice enough to provide us with two copies of Ashes of a Black Frost [US] [UK] [Kindle] by Chris Evans. It's book 3 of the Iron Elves Trilogy.

I know, you're asking yourself, what am I gonna do with the third book when I haven't read the first two?

Well, I have just the solution for you. Head over to Bastard's Books to win the first two in this trilogy and then come back and enter to win our giveaway.

It's simple really.

Giveaway Rules

If you are interested in getting your hands on Ashes of a Black Frost, then follow the exceedingly simple instructions below:

E-mail me your name and address at onlythebestsff@[removethis]gmail.com, with "Elves and Guns? Sign me up" as the subject of the email (or at least something that lets me know what the email is about).

No P.O. Boxes (or is it boxen? Brian Regan joke).

Snarky comments increase your chances of winning and win bonus entries for future giveaways. Open in the US only (sorry again) as long as delivery doesn't require the mounting of an expedition into remote wilderness.

...and yes, the Alloy of Law giveaway is still going on, but it will close soon, so get going!

17 October, 2011

Duck and Cover - King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (sequel to Prince of Thorns)

Sorry to be so late posting today. I had a midterm this morning and I was a bit busy this weekend. I'll try to get back on top of things today.

Mark Lawrence's debut, Prince of Thorns [US] [UK] [kindle], has been mostly well received and now I'm about to be two books behind. Will have to get on this series asap.

13 October, 2011

eBook deals from Simon & Schuster

Straight off the press (well, email) from Simon & Schuster, eBook deals aplenty. I've linked a couple of the titles to reviews I've done and there's more I will have to check out...like Zombies vs. Unicorns. How can I possibly pass that up?

Simon & Schuster offers special New York Comic Con eBook promotion

Simon & Schuster is offering a special New York Comic Con eBook promotion from October 11th through November 14th.

eBook titles have been reduced from $7.99 to $3.99 and will include Star Trek, Urban Fantasy, Sci-FI/Horror and teen fiction titles (for a complete list, please see below).

Find all titles here: http://pages.simonandschuster.com/comiccon/

Titles include:

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Horror
RISE AGAIN by Ben Tripp
SOULESS by Christopher Golden
THE RIVER KINGS’ ROAD by Liane Merciel (Works as stand-alone even though 3rd book won't be published)

Original Star Trek Novels
TITAN #1: TAKING WING by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels
ENTERPRISE: KOBAYASHI MARU by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels

Urban Fantasy
A RUSH OF WINGS by Adrian Phoenix
STAKED by J.F. Lewis
MASTER OF NONE by Sonya Bateman
WICKED GAME by Jeri Smith-Ready

Teen Fiction
UNWIND by Neal Shusterman
EDGE by Rudy Josephs
PATHFINDER by Orson Scott Card
WICKED by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie

12 October, 2011

It's News To Me #26 - Brent Weeks Cover and Lev Grossman Talks Magicians on TV

Hope you're week's going well. I've been busy with school and applying for jobs and studying for the MPRE and dreading taking the bar next summer. That last one really takes it out of you.

Lev Grossman gives the story behind The Magicians getting optioned for TV: By interviewing himself. It's great.

Brent Weeks reveals Sub Press cover for Perfect Shadow: Which I really need to read, with which I really need to get an ereader to read. Loving the cover. (Artist Raymond Swanland, Sir Awesome)

Addition to the Alloy of Law Giveaway - Alloy of Law on Audiobook

You may have heard we're running a giveaway of Brandon Sanderson's Alloy of Law, a Mistborn novel. Well, not only do we like to milk things for all they're worth, Macmillan audio found out about it too and decided to throw in a copy of The Alloy of Law on audiobook, whoot! Sorry, couldn't help myself.

I know there are lots of audiophiles (like me) out there, so now's your chance to give your eyes a rest and enjoy a book on your way to work/school/gym/dragon factory.

So, to sum up the giveaway. We're now giving away not only a signed ARC of The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson, but also the Audiobook.

If you've already entered the giveaway, do not send another entry. We will give the signed ARC to the first pick and the audiobook to the second.

Macmillan audio has also provided a clip for your enjoyment.

11 October, 2011

Review - Heaven's Needle by Liane Merciel (Ithelas 2)

Sequels can be quite the mixed bag. Some show the author is here to stay, while others prove them to be more a one hit wonder. Sometimes sequels, however, are even better than the original; Deadhouse Gates, The Elfstones of Shannara, X-Men 2, etc. I'm happy to report that Heaven's Needle [US] [UK] [Kindle] falls into this latter category as well.
The mountain fortress of Duradh Mal was mysteriously destroyed centuries ago. And now, in its shadow, evil stirs. . . .

Unaware of the danger, two inexperienced Illuminers set out for the village of Carden Vale, at the foot of Duradh Mal, to minister to the people. The warrior Asharre, her face scarred with runes, her heart scarred by loss, is assigned to protect the young clerics. But in Carden Vale they find unspeakable horrors—the first hint of a terrifying ghost story come true.

The Sun Knight Kelland has been set free by the woman he loves, the archer Bitharn, but at the cost of undertaking a mission only he can fulfill. Joined by a Thornlord steeped in the magic of pain, they too make their way to Duradh Mal. There lies the truth behind the rumors of the dead come back to life, flesh ripped from bones, and creatures destroying themselves in a violent frenzy. And if Kelland cannot contain the black magic that has been unleashed after six hundred years, an entire world will fall victim to a Mad God’s malevolent plague. . . .

Heaven's Needle is the second novel of Ithelas, following the extremely well-done debut, The River Kings' Road. As you'll notice from the blurbage above, there's a distinct lack of some of the main characters from River Kings', Brys Tarnell (great name btw) and Odosse. Instead, the story focuses on Bitharn and Kelland and some new characters who will more than win you over.

While we're on that note, I think it was a great move on Merciel's part to change the focus a bit in this novel. Brys and Odosse had their time and I really think their story was over, at least for now, and this new focus really worked.

Just when Bitharn and Kelland were really realizing their love for each other, Kelland is taken away from her, to the dungeons of the Thorns. This is as tragic as it gets and even though Bitharn has certain responsibilities as a Celestian, she realizes the true purposes behind all the rules and laws, thus opting to follow the spirit of the law instead.

We also get a look at some other players in the game, and really only glimpses into the dangerous games they're playing. As I mentioned in my review for River Kings', Merciel has created a magic system that is completely dependent on religion. Only those anointed to a certain calling can utilize magic in their name, be they Celestians or Thorns.

In Heaven's Needle, not only does a new evil enter the struggle, but these other players attempt to use magic on their own, without the blessing of the gods, thus welcoming all sorts of new problems.

There was more questing going on in Heaven's Needle than in the first book, but while Merciel could focus on the travelogue, she focuses instead on the emotional struggles of the characters. They quest, but the book isn't about the quest so much, and I'm glad the book wasn't padded to do so. While running the risk of a few spoilers, Merciel also created some amazing monsters that really creeped me out, but had me running back for more.

Merciel really focuses on some very human themes in this book that had me doing a lot of introspection myself. We all have principles we hold dear in our lives and Merciel shows how easy it is to give up what is you one step at a time. It doesn't happen all at once, but the more you allow to happen that goes against what you believe in, the sooner you'll find that you've completely given up.

Why Read Heaven's Needle?

All in all, this is a great series, that has only gotten better. I was doing everything I could to find time to read Heaven's Needle and that's always a good sign. I can't wait for more from Liane Merciel.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

10 October, 2011

The Iron Elves Trilogy - Should I Read It?

The third and final book of the Iron Elves Trilogy, Ashes of a Black Frost [US] [UK] [Kindle] is coming out and I was wondering, should I read this series?

I've been looking at this trilogy for a while and it seems pretty good, plus the covers are right up my alley. I also haven't read about elves in a while so maybe this is where I should start.

Here's some info on the first book in the series, A Darkness Forged in Fire:
We do not fear the flame, though it burns us,
We do not fear the fire, though it consumes us,
And we do not fear its light,
Though it reveals the darkness of our souls,
For therein lies our power.
-- Blood Oath of the Iron

First in a stunning debut series, A Darkness Forged in Fire introduces an unforgiving world of musket and cannon...bow and arrow...magic, diplomacy, and oaths -- each wielding terrible power in an Empire teetering on the brink of war.

In this world, Konowa Swift Dragon, former commander of the Empire's elite Iron Elves, is looked upon as anything but ordinary. He's murdered a Viceroy, been court-martialed, seen his beloved regiment disbanded, and finally been banished in disgrace to the one place he despises the most -- the forest.

Now, all he wants is to be left alone with his misery...but for Konowa, nothing is ever that simple. The mysterious and alluring Visyna Tekoy, the highborn daughter of an elfkynan governor, seeks him out in the dangerous wild with a royal decree that he resume his commission as an officer in Her Majesty's Imperial Army, effective immediately.

For in the east, a falling Red Star heralds the return of a magic long vanished from the earth. Rebellion grows within the Empire as a frantic race to reach the Star unfolds. It is a chance for Konowa to redeem himself -- even if the entire affair appears doomed to be a suicide mission...

and that the soldiers recruited for the task are not at all what he expects. And worse, his key adversary in the perilous race for the Star is the dreaded Shadow Monarch -- a legendary elf-witch whose machinations for absolute domination spread deeper than Konowa could ever imagine....

Here's some info on the newest, Ashes of a Black Frost:

In the bestselling traditions of Terry Brooks, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Bernard Cornwell comes the third novel in the acclaimed epic fantasy series following The Light of Burning Shadows.

Musket and cannon, bow and arrow, and magic and diplomacy vie for supremacy once again in this all-new epic adventure from acclaimed author Chris Evans. As the human-dominated Calahrian Empire struggles to maintain its hold on power in the face of armed rebellion from within, the Iron Elves’ perilous quest to defeat the power-hungry elf witch, the Shadow Monarch, now takes on greater urgency....

Packed with wit, high adventure, and political intrigue, Ashes of a Black Frost will hook readers on this bold and exciting series.

Also, the Author is doing a Twitter chat on Oct. 13th. It is from noon-4PM Est using the hashtag #NYCC.

Let me know what you think of this series, you're the only ones I trust.

07 October, 2011

Fantasy Art Exhibition

I got an email the other day and thought I'd better share it. Can't go wrong with dragons, am I right?
My name is Mark and I'm part of Gallery Nucleus. We're a small art gallery located in Alhambra, CA. I wanted to let you know that we're having a fantasy art exhibition centered around dragons. The opening reception is October 8th from 7 to 11 pm and the show will be running until October 31st...
Featured artists include Justin Gerard, Justin Sweet, William Stout, Omar Rayyan, Jeremy Enecio, and many more. You can find more information on our event page. And even if you can't make it, we'll have all the pieces available online by the show opening. Hope to hear back from you.

06 October, 2011

Giveaway: The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson (Signed ARC!)

Yup, that's right, a signed copy of Brandon Sanderson's newest entry into his Mistborn series, The Alloy of Law.

All you have to do is follow these handy-dandy instructions and you could have a chance to win.

Giveaway Rules

If you are interested in getting your hands on The Alloy of Law, then follow the exceedingly simple instructions below.

E-mail me your name and address at (THIS IS DIFFERENT FROM NORMAL) onlythebestsff@[removethis]gmail.com, with "I thought you were working on A Memory of Light" as the subject of the email (or at least something that lets me know what the email is about).

Snarky comments increase your chances of winning and win bonus entries for future giveaways. Open in the US only (sorry again) as long as delivery doesn't require the mounting of an expedition into remote wilderness.

05 October, 2011

Review - Laddertop Vol. 1 by Orson Scott Card, Emily Janice Card, Illustrated by Honoel A. Ibardolaza

(A night at the Card's)

(Emily walks in to talk to her Uncle Orson, she's got big plans)

OSC: (startled) Oh, hi Emily. What are you doing here so early?

EJC: (Did I mention she's a bit off her rocker) Hi Unkie Orson, I had this great idea for a new book I want to write, but I think I need your help and your connections of course.

OSC: You know I'd do anything for family, what's the pitch?

EJC: So, I was thinking of having this school, and, well, it's only for kids...oh and it's in space...

OSC: Umm...I don't know if you've ever read my most fam-

EJC: ...and the kids in this school are really smart and they're a select group...

OSC: I really think you should look at the things I've already pub-

EJC: ...and we would definitely have to have an antigravity training scene or two and awesome space suits, oh, and aliens...

OSC: Have you even been paying attention to my career-

EJC: ...and the lead characters will be two girls and it will all be done as a manga.

OSC: Wow, this is brand new to me! Let's go with it, I'll call Tor.

Okay, I couldn't resist and I have no authority to speak to the craziness of any of the people who worked on Laddertop. While it's own story with completely different aliens and kids, Laddertop [US] [UK] really hard not to see Orson Scott Card and divorce this new manga story from his work with Ender.

I did enjoy the book, it's a very quick read and while this seemed like one big set up, this will be a really fun story to follow. Plus, I don't read a lot of manga, so this is branching out for me. I will have to read some more in the future because this was really fun.

3.5 out of 5 Stars


Twenty-five years ago, the alien Givers came to Earth. They gave the human race the greatest technology ever seen— four giant towers known as Ladders that rise 36,000 miles into space and culminate in space stations that power the entire planet. Then, for reasons unknown, the Givers disappeared. Due to the unique alien construction of the Laddertop space stations, only a skilled crew of children can perform the maintenance necessary to keep the stations up and running.
Back on Earth, competition is fierce to enter Laddertop Academy. It is an honor few students will achieve. Robbi and Azure, two eleven-year-old girls who are the best of friends, are candidates for the Academy. They will become entangled in a dangerous mystery that may help them solve the riddle of the Givers...if it doesn’t destroy the Earth first!
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher

04 October, 2011

Giveaway Winner! Ganymede by Cherie Priest

We had a great turn out for this giveaway, I'm sorry I only have one book to give out...

but before we get to the winner, we had some great snark and all of the following snarkers will receive 2 extra entries into the next giveaway, or a subsequent giveaway of their choice:
I do believe my *bones* be *shakin'* at the thought of winning that there book. The thought of *naught* winnin' it fills me with *dread,* but don't worry, I'll still give you my own personal *clemency* in *time.* (Hey, there's only so many ways you can work something that sounds like "Clementine" into a sentence!) (Jonathan Fortin)
Gany chance in Hell I'll be the one? I Dread that it's Nought my Tine to Shaker up and win this one. I Fathom I gave it a Shot though! (Todd Tyrna)

What? Another giveaway? This is becoming so.....yeah.... (Tyler A. Childers)

Should I be snarky about the River Song wanna-be on the cover of the book or about the deliciously vague contest rules? Or are you just leaving this up to your readers (good luck with that)? (Jamieson Ridenhour)

Did Gany really have to be in all caps? Also, would it have been to much to add the extra 4 letters to complete the title of the book? It's really not that long of a title.... (Wayne)

I would add a snarky comment, but either I'm tired, or there wasn't much to work with in the giveaway post. (Todd Johansen, although I'm not sure if this is intentional snark)
Oh yeah...almost forgot...and the winner is:

Tabitha Jenkins from California

Congrats to Tabitha (aka Pabkins) and thanks to everyone for entering!

01 October, 2011

NPR Top 100 Flowchart from SFSignal

What's better than a list of the top 100 SciFi and Fantasy books? That list in a flowchart that recommends to you what to read next. SFSignal has done this, but be careful, make sure you have at least the next hour or so to spare. (For best viewing click on the SFSignal link.)

(Thanks to Jamie at MithrilWisdom for the heads up.)

Also, if you need help understanding this flowchart, here's a flowchart on understanding flowcharts:

(via XKCD)